10 -- Part 4: THE AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND THE COURTS
Children develop an emotional response to certain objects of government before they understand much about them.
The flag deserves respect, the police are good, and the president is important.
Strong emotional attachment to the political community is one of the important orientations that develops in the preschool years.
Children watching fireworks at Independence Day can easily see that being American is special.
Children tend to choose the same political party as their parents, and schools that emphasize stirring narratives about national origins, founding heroes, and patriotism are an important agent of political learning.
Some state legislatures require a course or two in U.S. and state politics for college students.
Common values can be built by the media we are exposed to.
When there were fewer television stations, most children watched the same cartoons, many of which reinforced patriotic themes, and even today they watch videos and play video games that do the same things.
Basic values are fostered in us by the groups we belong to.
Peer groups influence people's social and political attitudes.
People who live in the same neighborhoods tend to have the same political attitudes as people who attend the same church.
These tendencies can be traced in part to the way people select themselves into groups, but they are reinforced by social contacts and the social media connections that allow us to build on and participate in the stories about who we are.
The process of talking, working, and worshiping together leads people to see the world in the same way.
Through this spiral of silence, what may be a bare majority for a group's position can become the overwhelming voice of the group.
The citizens of political socialization mostly agree with the rules of the game and accept the outcomes of the national political process as legitimate.
That doesn't mean that we are in agreement on everything.
As we get older and are exposed to more influences, our opinions become more complex.
We move from consensus on the basics of American political culture to more divisive beliefs.
The positive feelings toward government we build in our early years are disrupted by divisive beliefs.
The post-New Deal philosophy that there are public solutions to our problems means that when government acts there will be winners and losers.
Conflict among different groups in society can affect levels of trust in the government.
In the days after 9/11, our trust in the government waned, but we did so because we believed that we were under threat, and because of the divisions in our opinions.
In Chapter 6 we saw that race has been a problem in American politics.
For African American children, it is not always clear that the police are their friends or that the system deserves their loyalty.
The opportunities for black kids to realize that the American dream of growing up to be president can actually belong to them has been one of the most significant effects of the Obama presidency.
Race has been divisive in this country.
Blacks have achieved the same political rights as the white majority in recent decades, but the income disparity between whites and blacks continues.
When we compare the answers to a question about spending to improve the condition of blacks, the responses are quite different.
Whites are more favorable to such spending than African Americans.
We can see that respondents would support a community bill to ban discrimination in housing.
Whites are more likely to side with the owner's right to sell a house than African Americans are.
On social issues like abortion and prayer, the racial differences are less visible.
The child of a White House staffer was allowed to pat his head and confirm that his hair was the same as the president's.
The future prospects of children who have grown up with an African American president may be different than those who came before them.
Blacks and whites have different political attitudes because of the discrimination experienced by African Americans.
Blacks are more likely to see higher levels of discrimination in the criminal justice system, in education, and in the job market.
African Americans are the most solidly Democratic group in terms of both party identification and voting, reflecting the very different stands on racial and economic issues the parties have taken.
When whites' income and other status indicators rise, they become more conservative and Republican until they achieve advanced degrees, when they tend to become Democrats.
African Americans don't see the same thing.
Better-educated and higher-income blacks have stronger racial identifications, which results in distinctly liberal positions on economic and racial issues, and solid support for Democratic candidates.
The increasing number of black conservatives shows that assumptions about African Americans and the Democratic Party are not always correct.
This small but emerging pattern is exemplified by Condoleezza Rice, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, and Herman Cain, who briefly led in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.
Americans differ by race and ethnicity, and these factors interact in interesting ways to influence the opinions we hold on different policies.
In the hyperpartisan times in which we now live, Asians are becoming much more liberal than they have been in the past.
Whites are the most conservative on the death penalty, with almost three-quarters favoring capital punishment, compared to half of African Americans and Latinos.
Blacks believe in prayer in the schools, but they also believe in too little spending on health care.
Latino's oppose abortion and don't favor a reduction in the number of immigrants allowed into the country.
The differences in the pattern make sense in the context of America's racial and ethnic mix.